Here are some of questions that we get frequently. We thought sharing them may help people understand more about our business.
I have a set of chairs that need some attention. Can you fix them?
Yes! Chairs are some of the most common types of furniture in need of repair, mostly because they get so much use. Plus, we all (we're guilty as well) like to lean back in them which stresses the joinery. Broken spindles and stretchers, loose legs, missing pieces: we've got you covered. In need of rush or caned seats or upholstery? While we don't offer those services in house, we can help connect you with local artisans who specialize in those trades.
How long will it take to finish my project?
Each project is different but we do our best to give you a general idea of project timeframes when we do estimates. Our work is done by hand and there are rarely any shortcuts that can be taken and still have the job done right. In general, a 'quick turnaround' project for us is 3 - 4 weeks (things like tightening chairs and other items not needing major finish work). Projects with a broader scope of work and/or requiring more involved finish treatments can take 4-8 weeks. The amount of work in the studio at any given time also plays a role in how quickly projects can be completed. (The COVID-19 pandemic may contribute to longer than anticipated timeframes as delays in the supply chain occur.)
Need your project completed by a particular date or for an event? We often have a backlog of work so planning ahead, even if your deadline is months away, greatly increases the likelihood of success. For example, having your dining table restored in late spring or summer ensures you'll beat the early-fall rush to have it completed by Thanksgiving.
How much will my project cost? I can send a photo.
Photos can be helpful in determining the scope of work needed for your project, but to be able to provide an accurate estimate we will need to see the piece in real life. Why? Certain finish issues are difficult to photograph. Similarly, photos rarely convey the extent of things like loose veneer, poorly working drawers, or loose joints. All theses things can radically change treatment, project timeframe, and pricing and we'd rather provide you with the most accurate estimate right from the start. (We reserve the right to renegotiate pricing if an unforeseen issue arises.)
There's a white ring on my table. How do I get rid of it?
The white rings are trapped moisture in the finish. We've heard of lots of home remedies over the years. While some have had success with them, there's not one out there that we can recommend. (Most involve food items like olive oil or mayonnaise, both will just turn rancid in the wood of your table. Please don't use them on your furniture.) Its easy to create other problems when using home remedies so we suggest allowing us to assist you.
If the rings are faint and just on the surface of the finish, we may be able to remove them with a house call. White rings that penetrate deeper into the finish may require more involved work at our studio. The good news is white rings are in the finish only, not in the wood.
What about black rings or splotches? I want those removed.
Black rings and other dark splotches are a completely different problem. These marks are a result of a substance that has either stained the wood or through a chemical reaction with the wood has turned black. There are ways to deal with these stains, but they are more involved than dealing with white rings. The goal is to have these types of blemishes go away 100%, but that is not always possible. Sometimes, we can only reduce their appearance, leaving a faint 'shadow' of the problem. Sometimes its a 90% improvement, sometimes only 10%.
Another type of dark splotch or mark you might encounter are burns. Whether left by candles or cigarettes, burns are more difficult to disguise because the wood itself has undergone some level of carbonization. We are able to touch up these areas to minimize their appearance.
My ceiling collapsed and damaged my furniture. My insurance company needs an estimate for repair. Can you assist?
Oof. We've seen this happen before and hope your ceiling gets fixed soon. We are happy to provide an estimate for repair caused by ceiling collapses, flooding, and other unexpected 'surprises' life throws at you. We will provide you with an estimate you can submit to your insurance company to help return your furniture back to its condition before the damage occurred. Please keep in mind, we are not appraisers.
The movers broke a piece of my furniture but are only offering a few dollars to compensate for the damage! Why is that?
We hate seeing moving damage, but it happens frequently. Even a very careful move by an experienced mover results in damage sometimes. If you only use the mover's basic insurance to cover your items, they are only responsible to compensate you for 60 cents per pound of the item. You can imagine, this amount won't make a large dent in the cost to restore your piece. Extra insurance, either through the moving company or a third-party, is recommended to protect your cherished items regardless of monetary value.
Similar to doing an estimate for an insurance company, we can provide you with an estimate to submit to your movers to see if they will cover the cost of restoration.
If a mover does damage your furniture, make sure any broken pieces are found and kept with the damaged piece. If we can reuse an original part, that will bring the cost down.
Do you deliver and pick up furniture? Can I drop off my project?
We routinely pick up and deliver furniture. If it is a larger item, just let us know if you are able to assist in moving it or if we need to bring a second person with us. All of our pricing includes pickup and delivery.
You are more than welcome to drop off or pick up your furniture at our studio. This can help reduce the cost of your project. Keep in mind, we are open by appointment only and it is vital that you schedule any delivery or pick up well in advance.
If shellac isn't as durable as other finishes, why use it?
The shellac you can get at your local hardware store probably isn't the most durable. Likely because it can be quite old before you even purchase it and shellac loses its ability to cure properly with age. We make our own shellac in house in small batches as needed so it will always cure as it should. Our shellac is also thinner than store bought as we find that the 'many thin coats' approach yields a harder more durable finish than applying 'just a few thick coats'.
There are finishes out there that are 'tougher' than shellac. But these finishes traded clarity and repairability for that toughness. Because shellac is so repairable should an issue arise, we consider it is a far superior finish than most. It is also more period appropriate for some furniture than modern day lacquers and urethanes. We do offer an oil varnish option (also repairable) where appropriate.
I want to fix my broken chair. What's the strongest glue to use?
You might be surprised to find that glue 'strength' is only part of the equation when deciding on an appropriate adhesive. Properly aligning the break, adequate clamping pressure, and the type of adhesive are more important. Again, we prefer to use reversible glues when possible. You won't find hot melt glue or a particular 'simian' branded glue amongst our adhesive choices.
Your basic carpenters' glue is probably plenty strong for most jobs and readily accessible from most hardware stores. (Unless you absolutely need waterproof glues, we don't recommend them.) If your repair doesn't work out so well, we can largely undo these glues if you need our assistance. Hide glue is our most reversible adhesive and is frequently found on period furniture.
We've found that the expanding foam nature of some polyurethane based glues may be better suited towards other crafts and we do not recommend them for furniture repairs. They lack the reversibility we endorse and will need to be removed with hand tools in order to complete the repair properly. This can greatly increase the cost of repair. If you are unsure of what glue to use than it is best to let us assist you.
Do you take credit cards? What about Venmo or PayPal?
Currently, we only accept cash or checks. A 25% deposit is due for projects over $500 with the balance due when you receive your furniture back.
If you know that making payment with cash or check may pose a problem, let us know! We'll work together to come up with a solution.
I just read on your COVID-19 page I have to wear a mask if you come to my house? Are you serious about this?
You're referring to our face mask policy. And yes, we are very serious. The coronavirus doesn't know or care who the homeowner is. We feel it is best to take every precaution for mutual safety. This means everyone wears a snug fitting mask that fully covers their nose and mouth. And yes, this still applies if you have received the vaccine. We'll keep this policy in place until we feel it is no longer necessary.
Is my piece of furniture even worth restoring?
As tastes in decor change, so does the monetary value of furniture. In recent years, lower monetary value has been more of the trend when it comes to antique furniture. This means that often times, the cost to restore must be weighed against the cost of replacing the furniture. Ultimately, the decision is up to you.
Most of the projects we work on are family heirlooms or are pieces that have a strong emotional attachment to the owner. For these projects, replacement may be out of the question regardless of its monetary value (low or high). All of the projects we work on are equally valued in our eyes because our client's value their pieces. We offer the best service we can whether your piece is worth $40 or $40,000. We don't believe in 'tugging at your heartstrings' to guilt you into restoring a piece you don't want to invest in. Not caring for your great-uncle's chair doesn't mean you didn't care for your great-uncle.
Where can I buy French polish?
French polish is more of a process than a product. To French polish something is to slowly build up very thin films of shellac by using cotton wadding wrapped in a tightly woven cotton cloth. The finisher must gently be squeezing the cotton wrapped wadding (called a 'rubber') to release some shellac while gently gliding over the surface while paying attention to their speed, movements, and pressure. Temperature and humidity also plays a major role in how quickly the finisher makes their movements and how much shellac they can use at any given time.
So while you can buy shellac, you can't buy French polish. (But you can hire us to French polish for you!)